Against the backdrop of a sheltering Berkshires valley, during summer and fall wander through an intimate environment of outdoor sculpture and elegant gardens nourished by a gurgling stream.
What makes Ashintully Gardens a special place?
The 30-year creation of contemporary composer John McLennan, Ashintully Gardens are a serene retreat in the Berkshires surrounded by forested hills and traversed by a rushing stream. Mr. McLennan’s emphasis on elegant form and proportion in music is expressed through his garden design, which helped Ashintully earn the Hunnewell Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.
The gardens blend several natural features – a stream, native deciduous trees, a rounded knoll, and rising flanking meadows – into an ordered arrangement with both formal and informal beauty. Among the formal you'll find are the Fountain Pond, Pine Park, Rams Head Terrace, Bowling Green, Regency Bridge, and Trellis Triptych. Urns, columns, and statuary ornament the garden, while foot bridges, foot paths, stone stairs, and grassy terraces connect various parts of the garden.
A short trail up the hill leads to the ruins of the a Georgian-style mansion. In 1903, Robb and Grace de Peyster Tytus discovered the Tyringham Valley on their honeymoon. Soon after purchasing the 1,000 acres that they named Ashintully (Gaelic meaning “on the brow of the hill”), they built a Georgian-style mansion on the hill. The prominent home came to be known as the Marble Palace among local residents because of the way the pure white sand that was used for the stucco reflected the sunlight. In 1952, it burned down after being inhabited by two generations of the Tytus-McLennan family, but its Doric columns remain as testament to a bygone era. The present-day ruins command a striking view of distant Berkshire Hills.
A half-mile woodland trail leads to the ruins of the Marble Palace. Moderate walking. From these ruins, visitors can take in a distant view north through the Tyringham Valley.
When to Visit
Open on Wednesdays and Saturdays only from 1 – 5PM, starting the 1st Wednesday in June through 2nd Saturday in October.
The Trustees reserves the right to photograph or video visitors and program participants for promotional use, and usage of our properties implies consent. Find the full policy here.
Get directions on Google Maps.
From the Mass Turnpike (Exit 2), take Rt. 20 South, bear right onto Rt. 102, and immediately left onto Tyringham Rd. Follow for approximately 6.5 mi., passing through Tyringham Center (road then becomes Main Rd.), until you come to intersection with Sodem Rd. Turn left and park on the lawn off of the road as directed by signs. Overflow parking is available on the lawn past the red barn.
When to Visit
Open from the 1st Wednesday in June through the 2nd Saturday in October on Wednedsays and Saturdays only from 1 – 5PM.
FREE to individual visitors. Group garden tours of 15 or more are offered by prior appointment (fee applies). Call 413.298.3239 to arrange a tour.
Ashintully (Gaelic meaning “on the brow of the hill”) was the name given to the original 1,000-acre estate assembled in the early 20th century by Egyptologist and two-time state representative, Robb de Peyster Tytus from three farms in Tyringham and additional land in Otis.
On a hill overlooking the southern end of Tyringham Valley, Tytus built between 1910-1912 a white, Georgian-style mansion which came to be known as the Marble Palace among local residents because of the way the pure white sand that was used for the stucco reflected the sunlight. Its main façade featured four Doric columns and was spanned by thirteen window bays; its interior comprised thirty-five rooms, ten baths, and fifteen fireplaces (the mansion was destroyed by fire on April 20, 1952; only the front terrace, foundation, and four Doric columns remain today). In 1913, Tytus died at Saranac Lake, New York, leaving his wife, Grace, and two daughters, Mildred and Victoria. One year later, Mrs. Tytus married John S. McLennan, a Canadian senator, newspaper owner, and historian. She gave birth in 1915 to one child, John Jr., before subsequently being divorced.
In 1937, John McLennan (Jr.) acquired the estate, where he had spent all his childhood summers. He later moved into the farmhouse at the bottom of the hill, where he lived the rest of his life, renovating the nearby barn into a music studio. John McLennan became an accomplished composer of contemporary music, including chamber and orchestral music and pieces for piano and organ, and, in 1985, won an American Academy of Arts and Letters music award. John McLennan created, over the course of thirty years, Ashintully Gardens.
Property Acquisition History
Gift of Katharine and John McLennan in 1996.
Archival material related to the Ashintully Gardens is available to researchers at the Archives & Research Center in Sharon, Massachusetts.
John Stewart McLennan, Jr. Papers
(6.0 linear feet)
Regarding John McLennan’s musical career and his home, Ashintully, 1903-1996.
Grace Seeley Henop Tytus McLennan Papers
(3.5 linear feet)
Regarding Grace McLennan’s life, her writing, her family, and her home, Ashintully, 1884-1928.
Holly McLennan Ketron Albums Regarding Ashintully
(3.0 linear feet)
Album 1: Life of Grace Seeley Henop Tytus McLennan and Robb de Peyster Tytus, 1904-1910; Album 2: Life of John McLennan and family, 1944-1949.
Cataloged in PastPerfect.
Free garden map available on site.
Gardens of the Berkshires
Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.
Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:
We’d love to hear about your visit! Here are three easy ways to let us know what you think:
Take our challenge again this year and see how far you can hike and how many properties you can visit.
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Ashintully Gardens are open from the 1st Wednesday in June through the 2nd Saturday in October. Please note: There are no restrooms at this reservation.
Top historic gardens to visit in the Berkshires
Mar 23 – The Boston Globe Magazine